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Boyette helps Wildcats get back on right track

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OGDEN — As Jermaine Boyette goes, so go the Weber State Wildcats.

The Big Sky Conference's projected MVP netted a game-high 21 points as the Wildcats defeated Northern Arizona 78-66 in the Dee Events Center.

Boyette's emergence from a personal slump allowed the Wildcats (10-6 overall, 1-2 in conference play) to snap a three-game losing skid. The junior guard, who scored a combined 24 points in the setbacks, is a gauge of Weber State's success this season. When Boyette tops the team in scoring, the 'Cats are 6-2.

"When you've got an outstanding player like that you depend on him every night," said Weber State coach Joe Cravens. "Tonight he was Jermaine Boyette. Last week he was someone else."

Boyette's return to form featured 9-of-13 shooting from the field and eight straight points in a decisive stretch that gave Weber State the lead for good early in the first half.

"We came out and captured the game. That was the key. We got off to a good start," said Boyette. "Coach wanted me to come out on fire today, and that's what I did. I set the tempo for my team and my teammates got in it."

The Wildcats, he added, played hard, hustled and had fun. And in the process, Cravens noted, got back to playing the way they did earlier in the season.

Contributions were plentiful as 10 players scored and Weber State held Northern Arizona to 41.7 percent shooting. The Wildcats turned the ball over just 11 times.

Trailing 8-6, Boyette put Weber State ahead with two baskets, a 3-pointer and a free throw in a span of 1:12. The outburst propelled the Wildcats to a 41-35 halftime advantage.

Northern Arizona, tabbed second to Weber State in preseason polls by Big Sky coaches and media, drew no closer than three the rest of the way. That's when Talmadge Eyre came off the bench to score six straight points to make it 49-40 less than five minutes into the second half. Though the Lumberjacks eventually clawed back to within four, the Wildcats used a 25-9 run to put the game out of reach. Weber State held its biggest lead — at 76-56 — with 3:51 remaining. John Hamilton scored 12 of his 14 points to pace the effort.

"He knew we needed a lift and just took over," said Cravens.

The late push closed the door on the Lumberjacks, who were led by Kodiak Yazzie's 20 points.

"We didn't defend very well. They beat us in transition and they got some easy baskets," said NAU coach Mike Adras. "We didn't want to let them steal the show on us, but they did."

The Wildcats, who were reeling after league losses to Montana State and Montana last week, conclude a four-game homestand tonight at 7 against Sacramento State.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com